An interdisciplinary, experiential learning academic program in developing sustainable rural communities for students at Amrita Vishwa Vidhyapeetham and universities worldwide. The Program engages participants in 17 UNSDG’s and 117 SDG targets.
With the Live-in-LabsⓇ academic program, a multi-disciplinary engagement opportunity is provided to the students to solve the multidimensional challenges faced by the rural communities in India. This opportunity helps the students learn through an experiential learning process and impart the UNSDG’s importance. The experiential learning module also includes designing the solution for the identified challenge, which involves the community members in every aspect of the design process – inspiration, ideation, and implementation. The goal of these initiatives is to building self-reliant communities. This curriculum enabled academicians and members of the community to come together to create knowledge societies, followed by empowering remote communities by increasing access to information and knowledge.
The main target groups are faculty, researchers, and students at the undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. levels. Worldwide, teams of academic researchers, who are often isolated from the real world, and students have become involved in village development with a top-down approach of problem identification and solutions based on limited experience, limited economic resources, and limited understanding of the culture. There is a need for academia to work with the beneficiaries to develop sustainable interventions for rural communities.
Amrita University’s Live-in-Labs® program integrates academia, practical fieldwork, and an integrated participatory approach to ensure sustainability in rural development. The multi-disciplinary team consists of researchers, faculty, and students who travel to a village to gain first-hand experience and engage with the villagers to understand their issues. An in-depth study follows this to understand the challenges better and the participatory development of technology-based interventions for rural development. Then feedback is elicited from the villagers regarding the proposed plan. Research is conducted on the available resources, costs, and possible challenges to the project leading up to a lab prototype. The solution is then implemented in the villages post a field test followed by providing the required training to the villagers.
We intend to develop a comprehensive framework for academic engagement in building sustainable communities by designing and integrating a curriculum based on experiential learning that will enable participants to acquire the knowledge, skills, attitudes, and values necessary to shape a sustainable future.